ALYSSA Valdez capped a dominant outing with a decisive attack from the back row as Ateneo downed University of Santo Tomas in straight sets, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20, at the start of Season 10 of the Shakey’s V-League yesterday at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Valdez unloaded 17 kills, including the match clincher, and had four service aces in a 22-point performance that powered the Lady Eagles’ strong start to their title defense.
Rachel Ann Daquis, the former Far Eastern U star suiting up as a guest player for Ateneo, debuted with 12 points in front of a boisterous crowd that filled the arena to the rafters.
Dindin Santiago also got away with 22 points to power National University past Arellano, 25-21, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20, in the second match.
Myla Pablo came out strong as well for the Lady Bulldogs with 19 points, while Aiko Urdas had six of her 13 points coming off service aces.
Valdez accounted for almost half of the Lady Eagles’ 36 attacks as the Lady Eagles pulled off a surprise sweep of the former champion Tigresses even minus veterans Gretchen Ho and Dzi Gervacio.
“We didn’t expect the three sets,” said Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb. “We only had four days of practice with Rachel, nangangapa pa (she’s still feeling her way).”
Ho and Gervacio have yet to practice with Ateneo due to prior commitments, but both remain in the lineup.
“It’s up to them if they want to play,” said Gorayeb.
Even if their comeback efforts fell short in the first two frames, the Tigresses had hoped to push the match to a fourth set with another late rally behind Carmela Tunay and Aiza Maizo.
But three straight errors by the Tigresses, two off their serves, doomed their cause as the Lady Eagles moved within a point of clinching the opener, 24-18.
The Tigresses held off match point twice, before the Lady Eagles wrapped up the game with a strong Valdez kill.